Firefox

Firefox 44 Arrives With Push Notifications (mozilla.org) 182

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla today launched Firefox 44 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. Notable additions to the browser include push notifications, the removal of RC4 encryption, and new powerful developer tools. Mozilla made three promises for push notifications: "1. To prevent cross-site correlations, every website receives a different, anonymous Web Push identifier for your browser. 2. To thwart eavesdropping, payloads are encrypted to a public / private keypair held only by your browser. 3. Firefox only connects to the Push Service if you have an active Web Push subscription. This could be to a website, or to a browser feature like Firefox Hello or Firefox Sync." Here are the full changelogs: Desktop and Android.
Privacy

Senior Homeland Security Official Says Internet Anonymity Should Be Outlawed (dailydot.com) 532

Patrick O'Neill writes: A senior Homeland Security official recently argued that Internet anonymity should outlawed in the same way that driving a car without a license plate is against the law. "When a person drives a car on a highway, he or she agrees to display a license plate," Erik Barnett, an assistant deputy director at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and attache to the European Union at the Department of Homeland Security, wrote. "The license plate's identifiers are ignored most of the time by law enforcement. Law enforcement will use the identifiers, though, to determine the driver's identity if the car is involved in a legal infraction or otherwise becomes a matter of public interest. Similarly, should not every individual be required to display a 'license plate' on the digital super-highway?"
Technology

Are Phone Numbers Doomed To Die? (fortune.com) 289

HughPickens.com writes: Valentina Zarya writes at Fortune Magazine that the top 2016 prediction for David Marcus, Facebook's vice president of messaging products, is the disappearance of the phone number and its replacement by applications like Facebook's Messenger. " You can make video and voice calls while at the same time not needing to know someone's phone number," writes Marcus. "You don't need to have a Facebook account to use Messenger anymore, and it's also a cross platform experience – so you can pick up where you left off whether you're on a desktop computer, a tablet, or your phone." Jonah Berger, Wharton professor and author of "Contagious: Why Things Catch On" agrees. "For most of us, I think it's really hard to actually remember what someone's phone number actually is. We use our phones so often or we click on a button that has it. But if there was a test where you had to say, do you remember your best friends number or could you type in your best friend's number I think most of us would fail."

But not everyone agrees that Marcus' predictions are objective and disinterested. "It's all very well the company wanting to be the de facto Internet — especially in places like India. But drier minds and eyes might wonder whether the wish to eradicate phone numbers has something to do with not everyone having yet given Facebook their phone numbers," says Chris Matyszczyk. "It may well be that phone numbers will disappear. Some, though, might wonder how making their disappearance a company theme squares with what Marcus claims is the ultimate goal: 'It's all about delight.' This one's easy. It's all about delighting Facebook."

Microsoft

Microsoft Teams With Automakers To Put Windows, Office In Cars (microsoft.com) 196

An anonymous reader writes: Today Microsoft announced partnerships with several companies to bring Windows 10, Office 365, and Azure to cars. Volvo is having their Call Universal App integrate with Windows 10 smartphones and Microsoft Band 2 watches to let drivers interact with their cars. Harman, a company that builds infotainment systems, will allow drivers to access Office 365 services (while parked or while the car is driving itself). IAV, a similar company, will let users stream Windows 10 Continuum from their smartphone directly to a vehicle's dashboard. Finally, Nissan's LEAF and Infiniti models in Europe will run their telematics system on Azure. "The common thread between these announcements is that Microsoft is pitching Azure as an enabling platform, tossing in analytics and focusing on its core productivity strengths. Aside from the Microsoft Band 2 partnership with Volvo, Microsoft is taking an enterprise behind-the-scenes approach to the auto industry."
Networking

The Network Revolution Needed For Remote Surgery (thestack.com) 103

An anonymous reader writes: IEEE researchers are proposing new standards for haptic codecs over software-defined 5G networks in order to achieve the ambitious 1ms latency and reliability required for the 'tactile internet'. It's a trivial consideration when hugging chickens over a network, more serious for applications of telesurgery, and a proposed leap in network quality that seems likely to yield benefits for general data streams as well.
Technology

Samsung's Latest Smart Fridge Has Cameras and a Huge Display (engadget.com) 216

anderzole writes with news about Samsung's latest and greatest refrigerator unveiled at CES. Engadget reports: "One of the highlights of CES is always the wacky new appliance tech (and associated bickering) from Samsung and LG. This year looks to be no exception thanks to a new 'Family Hub' refrigerator from Samsung. The imposing-looking model is equipped with a 21.5-inch, 1080p monitor and cameras inside so that you can watch your mayonnaise go bad in real time. You can even check the contents remotely via a smartphone app to see what's in there while you're shopping, in case you forgot whether you need that jar of sweet pickles or not."
Businesses

Vivendi Takes Over Radionomy, Winamp Relaunch Now Possible (windowsreport.com) 117

SmartAboutThings writes: Winamp could once again be brought back to life after Vivendi Group took over the majority stake in Radionomy, the previous owner of the app who purchased it from AOL in early 2014. AOL originally planned to discontinue both Winamp and Shoutcast, but instead the company decided to sell the software to Belgian online radio service, Radionomy. The new owners initially promised that they'll keep Winamp alive, but no updates have been released since the takeover, which made most people think that Winamp era has ended for good. Vivendi Group, which owns or is involved in famous companies such as Dailymotion, Ubisoft, and Deezer, could help relaunch Winamp, although the press release announcing the acquisition offers no suggestion in this regard. The company, however, does mention Winamp and Shoutcast as two of the most important assets that will join its portfolio following the takeover.
PHP

PHP 7 Ready For Release (softpedia.com) 159

An anonymous reader writes: After a long wait web developers can finally start migrating their code to PHP 7. The new version comes with minimal syntax modifications, and is more focused on improving performance and upgrading PHP's core interpreter. Softpedia reports: "As mentioned above, PHP 7 is focused on speed, and benchmarks carried out over the past few months, have shown it to be almost twice as fast as older PHP 5.x releases, and neck in neck with Facebook's HHVM project, a Just-In-Time compiler for PHP code." A full list of new features is available here.
Advertising

Viewing Data Harvested From Smart TVs Used To Push Ads To Other Screens? (securityledger.com) 148

chicksdaddy writes: In the latest episode of EULA overreach, electronics maker Vizio Holdings has been called out by the non profit investigative reporting outfit ProPublica for an on-by-default feature on its smart TVs called "Smart Interactivity" that analyzes both broadcast and streamed content viewed using the device. ProPublica noted that the company's privacy policy failed to clearly describe the tracking behavior, which included the collection of information such as the date, time, channel and whether the program was viewed live or recorded.

According to ProPublica, the monitoring of viewing information through IP addresses, while it does not identify individuals, can be combined with other data available in commercial databases from brokers such as Experian, creating a detailed picture of an individual or household. Vizio has since updated its privacy policy with a supplement that explains how "Smart Interactivity" works.

The bigger issue may be what that updated privacy policy reveals. As The Security Ledger notes, the updated Vizio privacy policy makes clear that the company will combine "your IP address and other Non-Personal Information in order to inform third party selection and delivery of targeted and re-targeted advertisements." Those advertisements "may be delivered to smartphones, tablets, PCs or other internet-connected devices that share an IP address or other identifier with your Smart TV."

In other words, TV viewing patterns will be used to serve ads to any device user who happens to be connected to the same network as the Vizio Smart TV — an obvious problem for households with a mix of say... adults and children?! Vizio does provide instructions for disabling the Smart Interactivity features and says that "connected" features of the device aren't contingent on monitoring. That's better than some other vendors. In 2014, for example, LG used a firmware update for its smart televisions to link the "smart" features of the device to viewer tracking and monitoring. Viewers who applied the update, but refused to consent to monitoring were not able to use services like Netflix and YouTube.

United Kingdom

The UK Will Police the Dark Web With a New Task Force (vice.com) 56

An anonymous reader writes with news that the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), and its top police counterpart, the National Crime Agency have formed a new unit to take on online crime. Motherboard reports: "'An NCA and GCHQ co-located Joint Operations Cell (JOC) opens officially today,' an NCA press release published Friday reads. 'The unit brings together officers from the two agencies to focus initially on tackling online child sexual exploitation.' This unit has been in the works for some time. Back at the end of 2014, UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced the plan for its formation at We Protect Children Online Global Summit. At the time, he said that 'The so-called "dark-net" is increasingly used by paedophiles to view sickening images. I want them to hear loud and clear: we are shining a light on the web's darkest corners; if you are thinking of offending, there will be nowhere for you to hide.' At the summit, it was said that GCHQ's technical skills would be its contribution to the unit. But the JOC won't just focus on child pornography cases. GCHQ Director Robert Hannigan said in the recent release that, on top of child exploitation, 'The Joint Operations Cell will increase our ability to identify and stop serious criminals."
DRM

DRM In JPEGs? (eff.org) 301

JustAnotherOldGuy writes: Adding DRM to JPEG files is being considered by the Joint Photographic Expert Group (JPEG), which oversees the JPEG format. The JPEG met in Brussels today to discuss adding DRM to its format, so there would be images that could force your computer to stop you from uploading pictures to Pinterest or social media. The EFF attended the group's meeting to tell JPEG committee members why that would be a bad idea. Their presentation(PDF) explains why cryptographers don't believe that DRM works, points out how DRM can infringe on the user's legal rights over a copyright work (such as fair use and quotation), and warns how it places security researchers at legal risk as well as making standardization more difficult. It doesn't even help to preserve the value of copyright works, since DRM-protected works and devices are less valued by users.
Transportation

Nissan Creates the Ultimate Distracted Driving Machine 140

jfruh writes: More and more research is suggesting that it isn't safe to text or even talk on our phones hands-free while driving, but one brave car company is pushing full-speed in the other direction. Nissan has created a concept car in which every surface, including the entire dashboard and even the seats, is a display device. The car is the result of "extensive" surveys with the younger generation that came to the conclusion that, according to Nissan, young people "feel that time spent in a car should be time for connecting and sharing experiences with friends."
Networking

OnHub Router -- Google's Smart Home Trojan Horse? 123

An anonymous reader writes: A couple weeks ago, Google surprised everybody by announcing a new piece of hardware: the OnHub Wi-Fi router. It packs a ton of processing power and a bunch of wireless radios into a glowy cylinder, and they're going to sell it for $200, which is on the high end for home networking equipment. Google sent out a number of units for testing, and the reviews are starting to come out. The device is truly Wi-Fi-centric, with only a single port for an ethernet cable. It runs on a Qualcomm IPQ8064 dual-core 1.4GHz SoC with 1GB of RAM and 4GB of storage. You can only access the router's admin settings by using the associated app on a mobile device.

OnHub's data transfer speeds couldn't compete with a similarly priced Asus router, but it had no problem blanketing the area with a strong signal. Ron Amadeo puts his conclusion simply: "To us, this looks like Google's smart home Trojan horse." The smartphone app that accompanies OnHub has branding for something called "Google On," which they speculate is Google's new hub for smart home products. "There are tons of competing smart home protocols out there, all of which are incompatible with one another—imagine HD-DVD versus Blu-Ray, but with about five different players. ... Other than Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, everything in OnHub is a Google/Nest/Alphabet protocol. And remember, the "Built for Google On" stamp on the bottom of the OnHub sure sounds like a third-party certification program."
The Internet

Unicode Consortium Looks At Symbols For Allergies 194

AmiMoJo writes: A proposal (PDF) submitted by a Google engineer to the Unicode Consortium asks that food allergies get their own emojis and be added to the standard. The proposal suggests the addition of peanuts, soybeans, buckwheat, sesame seeds, kiwi fruit, celery, lupin beans, mustard, tree nuts, eggs, milk products and gluten. According to TNW: "This proposal will take a little longer to become reality — it's still in very early stages and needs to be reviewed by the Unicode Consortium before it can move forward, but it'll be a great way for those with allergies to quickly express them."
Windows

Windows 10's Automatic Updates For NVidia Drivers Causing Trouble 317

Mark Wilson writes: One of the features that has been removed from Windows 10 — at least for home users — is the ability to pick and choose when updates are installed. Microsoft has taken Windows Update out of the hands of users so the process is, for the most part, completely automated. In theory, this sounds great — no more worrying about having the latest patches installed, no more concerns that a machine that hasn't been updated will cause problems for others — but an issue with NVidia drivers shows that there is potential for things to go wrong. Irate owners of NVidia graphics cards have taken to support forums to complain that automatically-installed drivers installed have broken their computers.
Windows

Windows 10 Home Updates To Be Automatic and Mandatory 628

AmiMoJo sends a report stating that Windows 10 Home users don't seem to have any way to disable automatic updates to the operating system. Throughout the testing of the Technical Preview, users noted that this option wasn't available, but it wasn't clear whether that was intended for the full release. Now that the suspected RTM build has been distributed, only two options are available regarding update installation: update then reboot automatically, or update then reboot manually. A quote from the EULA seems to support this: "The Software periodically checks for system and app updates, and downloads and installs them for you. ... By accepting this agreement, you agree to receive these types of automatic updates without any additional notice."

The article notes, "This has immediately raised concerns. Today, if a Windows user finds that an update breaks something that they need, they can generally refuse that update for an extended period. ... For Windows 10 Home users, this isn't going to be an option. If a future update breaks something essential, the user is going to be out of luck." Windows 10 Pro users will be able to delay updates for some period of time, and Enterprise users will have update functionality similar to that of Windows 8.
Firefox

Mozilla's Plans For Firefox: More Partnerships, Better Add-ons, Faster Updates 208

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla is reexamining and revamping the way it builds, communicates, and decides features for its browser. In short, big changes are coming to Firefox. Dave Camp, Firefox's director of engineering, sent out two lengthy emails, just three minutes apart: Three Pillars and Revisiting how we build Firefox. Both offer a lot more detail into what Mozilla is hoping to achieve.
Windows

First Windows 10 RTM Candidate Appears 189

Mark Wilson reports that the first RTM candidate for Windows 10 has been spotted: build 10176. Leaks and sources have suggested the company intends to finalize the operating system later this week, perhaps as early as July 9th. This would give Microsoft almost three weeks to distribute it to retailers and devicemakers before the July 29th launch date. "While the RTM process has been a significant milestone for previous releases of Windows, it’s more of a minor one for Windows 10. Microsoft is moving Windows 10 to a 'Windows as a service' model that means the operating system is regularly updated."
Yahoo!

The Next Java Update Could Make Yahoo Your Default Search Provider 328

itwbennett writes: At the company's shareholder meeting on Wednesday, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced a partnership with Oracle that could result in Yahoo becoming your default search provider in your browser. Starting this month, when users are prompted to update to the next version of Java, they'll be asked to make Yahoo their default search engine on Chrome (and Internet Explorer, for what it's worth). And, according to a Wall Street Journal report, the button will be checked by default, so if you aren't looking out for it, you might unwittingly find yourself a Yahoo user.
Programming

WebAssembly: An Attempt To Give the Web Its Own Bytecode 126

New submitter Josiah Daniels writes with this kernel from a much more detailed article at Ars Technica about what already looks like a very important initiative: WebAssembly is a new project being worked on by people from Mozilla, Microsoft, Google, and Apple, to produce a bytecode for the Web. WebAssembly, or wasm for short, is intended to be a portable bytecode that will be efficient for browsers to download and load, providing a more efficient target for compilers than plain JavaScript or even asm.js

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